Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Day With the Cup

So, if you follow my Twitter feed (hint hint), or at the least have stumbled upon this site in any fashion, you know I am a fan of the Los Angeles Kings.  If you have followed hockey at all in the past month, you know the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, and are the champions of the National Hockey League.  As noted earlier, that's pretty cool, and your favorite team in a sport winning a championship is something everyone should experience.  I'd recommend it.

At the risk of getting weepy to, presumably, Kansas City hockey fans on a Kansas City hockey blog about a team in Los Angeles, seeing the pictures of the Kings parade and rally make me long for a similar parade and rally to attend in my own backyard.  You, oh wise and wistful Kansas City sports fan, will say, "but the Royals had a parade in '85," and, "just wait, the Chiefs/Royals will be holding a rally soon enough!"  And that's all fine and good, especially since any success from these teams would be small payback for years and years of crushing disappointment.  Winning a championship and giving us a reason to celebrate something, anything, is the least they can do.

Friday, June 6, 2014

No NHL for Seattle, No NHL for Kansas City but All the Lies You Can Handle!

A few weeks ago, reports said the NHL was seriously looking into Seattle as a viable option for a new NHL franchise.

How serious were they?!

So serious, it seems, that commissioner/overlord Gary Bettman and Bill Daly brought a possible future owner along with them.

So serious, the NHL wanted Seattle to go ahead with the construction of the arena under the auspices of an NHL franchise being the main tenant.

So serious, umm, the Florida Panther fired a bunch of employees (oh, wait, that's a different story.  More on this later).

Monday, May 5, 2014

AHL to Start Western Division: Kansas City Not "Western" Enough for Once

According to this article from MayorsManor, the American Hockey League (the AAA version of professional hockey) may add a Western Division by 2015.  This is an effort for teams like the Sharks, Ducks, Coyotes, and Kings to move their top affiliates closer to home.  Currently, all four of these team's affiliates are on the East Coast.

"West" does not appear to mean Kansas City, though.  One time zone closer is not quite close enough.

Despite AEG's ownership of the Sprint Center and the Los Angeles Kings, that team appears destined for Ontario, CA, the current home of the Kings ECHL organization. 
The Kansas City Blades were the primary affiliate of the San Jose Sharks from 1991-96 until the NHL pressured their clubs to link up with AHL organizations.  Again, the Sharks appear to want a move closer to home, and not 1,000+ miles away.  Portland, OR and cities in Washington state could be viable options for the Sharks, as well as for the Ducks and Coyotes.  I suppose a fun irony would be if the Coyotes AHL affiliate were to play in Seattle.  Oh, what a wonderful laugh that would be.

This comes on the heels of the announcement that the Flames affiliate in Abbotsford (Western Canada)  – the only team in the Pacific Time Zone – is moving to the East Coast next season.

The reconfiguring of the AHL does not mean the NHL’s Midwest teams will be looking for new homes for their affiliates either.  Those teams are already close, as it is.  Dallas’ affiliate is in Texas; Chicago and St. Louis’s affiliates are in Illinois; Nashville’s affiliate is in Milwaukee; and the Minnesota Wild’s affiliate is in Iowa.  And even though the Columbus Blue Jackets’s affiliate is in Springfield, Massachusetts, Kansas City sports fans may not latch onto the affiliate of another smaller market team.

Why not?

Because, as the top image implies, Kansas City does not see itself as a minor league city anyway.   Kansas City carries a “Minor League Syndrome,” as evidenced by the KC Creative Crossroads campaign and the parody billboard at the top of the post.  More Music (lovers in small, indecipherable type) than Memphis?  More Arts (participation) than New York?  I mean, it’s all marketing and tourism speak, but come on.

An AHL team in the Sprint Center would add an anchor tenant and 40+ dates to the arena (just like a pro hockey or basketball would).  As evidenced before, the Mavericks have one of the higher attendances of any American minor league hockey team.  So, it’s plausible that an AHL team downtown would draw just as many people to games. 

Alas, we are blessed with the Mavericks, and only the Mavericks, for the time being.  And in return, they have been blessed with the Kansas City Curse.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blues vs. Stars - Kansas City's Brief Date with the NHL in 2014

Have you heard the news? It was reported a couple of days ago that the St. Louis Blues will face the Dallas Stars in a pre-season exhibition at the Sprint Center on Sept. 27, 2014.

While the Blues and Stars aren't exactly my cup of tea, I'm thrilled about the NHL making a return to Kansas City. My guess is it won't match the record attendance from the last exhibition game back in 2011, but that's fine by me. There were only a few hundred people, including Flubber and I, at the Kings/Islanders fight on ice skates game in 2009 and it was a great time. Of course now that we know record attendance isn't going to bring an NHL team this way, we can all kind of sit back and wait to be entertained rather than speculating in the coming months whether or not the city will show the league that there is a market here.

Tickets are on sale now using the presale code ICE. Presale ends and normal sale begins Friday (02/14) at 10am. I don't know what the difference is, but there you go. Makes for a great Valentine's Day gift! Right?


NHL preseason hockey returns to Kansas City — Dallas Stars v. St. Louis Blues September 27

Blues, Stars to play NHL preseason game at the Sprint Center

St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars Face-Off on Sept. 27

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

USA Hockey Adult Pond Hockey National Championships Happened This Past Weekend: A Kansas Citians's Review

via @usahockey

Kansas City hockey fans, I'd like to introduce myself. I am Nutbush. I've been an author on this blog for... a year and a half, I think?... and have fended off enormous pressure from Flubber to actually write something. NO MORE. You will all now be subjected to my long-winded tangents (ahem) and generally awful writing. JOKE'S ON YOU, FLUBBER.

Anyway, let's get to the point of this post: Hockey. Specifically, pond hockey. Even more specifically, getting completely destroyed playing pond hockey.

The USA Hockey Adult Pond Hockey National Championships have been held in Eagle River, Wisconsin, for the last nine years. The event has grown every year and was featured by NBC during Hockey Day in America:

I was presented the chance to participate in this year's tournament and jumped at the chance. I had spent the majority of my life wishing I could play hockey up until last year when I joined a D-League team, so of course I wasn't going to miss being able to play the game in its purest form. On top of that, it is difficult to get a team registered - this year's pool was filled up completely in just two days - so if you get the chance, you'd better take it.

One thing that I was told about Northern Wisconsin (I'd never been there) was that it was cold in the winter (duh). But I'd be fine, hockey gear is thick and stuff.

I was also told not to expect to win any games and that getting blown out was a near-certainty. Pond hockey games tend to have scores in the 30s and 40s for at least three reasons:
  1. There are no goalies
  2. The playing surface is small
  3. Holy crap, the other team is good
Number 3 in that list applied to us a lot. We were in a division a bit above our skill level because of how quickly registration filled up. Oh well, low expectations means more fun.

First game result: like, 35-0. I honestly lost count. We scored a few goals in the last two games and your guess on our opponents' scores are as good as mine. Suffice it to say they won quite comfortably.

The ice was great for the first game, but the surfaces quickly started developing huge cracks in them. I would find it hard to believe if the amount of torn knee ligaments among all participants wasn't greater than zero. I ate it a number of times and my already (very) poor hockey skills were even further diminished by the conditions. I'm sure this is something pond hockey veterans are used to, but I usually play on indoor surfaces and I'M A LITTLE GIRL, DARNIT.
click to embiggen
In the end, the losing really didn't matter. Playing on a frozen lake was a freaking blast and everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime. If losing does matter to you, keep in mind that this event is sponsored by Labatt. You get something like six 12-packs of beer just for playing, so there's that. Nothing says "I'm totally ready to skate a bunch in sub-zero temperatures and not vomit" than ingesting lots of free beer.

A lot of Kansas City teams made the trip, so if you are on a team and haven't done this yet, I encourage you to get your players together and (try to) register next year and go. It's a great time and representing KC hockey definitely can't hurt, even if your team gets outscored somewhere-close-to-100 to 7.

Here is some more info on this year's tournament, if you're interested:

Photo Gallery

2014 Labatt Blue/USA Pond Hockey Championship Notebook - 19 Winners Crowned in Eagle River

If you've made it this far, congratulations on reading an entire Nutbush post. Few have done so and lived to tell the tale. You're probably wondering where the last few minutes of your life have gone. Sorry.